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13. Marx's Theory of Class and Exploitation

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Uploaded on Mar 4, 2011

Foundations of Modern Social Thought (SOCY 151)

In order to move from a theory of alienation to a theory of exploitation, Marx develops a concept of class and of the capitalist mode of production. He developed these in The Communist Manifesto, the Grundrisse and Das Kapital. Marx argues that what sets the capitalist mode of production apart from the commodity mode of production is not only the accumulation of money; the capitalist mode of production is characterized by the use of labor power as a commodity to create more value. The capitalist compensates the laborer enough for his labor power to reproduce the commodity (the labor power), but the laborers' power produces additional value: a surplus value for the owner. The worker is exploited when he does not keep or control the value created by his own labor power. Marx argues that the capitalist system forces people into one of two classes: the capitalist bourgeoisie or the proletariat class of wage laborers. However, this is not empirically accurate historically or in our contemporary moment; experience has demonstrated that a middle class—including artisans and agricultural workers who control their own labor power and products—that do not fit into Marx's model of the capitalist mode of production.

00:00 - Chapter 1. The More Familiar Karl Marx
09:14 - Chapter 2. Theory of Exploitation
38:49 - Chapter 3. Classes in History
45:00 - Chapter 4. How Many Classes?

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Fall 2009.

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